Merv Roberts was one of the most respected backmen of his era as selection in five State teams testifies. He gained a great reputation for the surety of his ball handling, causing one reporter in June 1950 to refer to him as, “sticky fingers.”
Mervyn Arthur Roberts was born on 30 December 1923 and attended Norwood High School.
In 1942 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving as a flying officer on the South West Pacific and Borneo. He was discharged in January 1946.
Merv joined Norwood and debuted in the third round of the 1946 season against Port Adelaide at Alberton. Standing at 178cm and weighing just 73kg, the slightly built defender went on to be part of the successful, “Jack Oatey era ” and was a member of three premiership sides: 1946, 1948 and 1950 and two losing grand finals in 1947 and 1952.
He was a member of the side that played against North Adelaide at the Sydney Cricket Graound in June 1953 before 20,000 spectators in the first game played for premiership points outside of South Australia.
He was a highly regarded clubman being presented with Excellent Service Awards in 1950 and 1953. In 1954 he was the Player Representative on the Management Committee.
There was a vigorous aspect to his play as demonstrated in a game against Glenelg. A teammate had taken a mark and was being harassed by a Glenelg opponent. According to the umpire, Merv ran some 15 yards straight at the Glenelg player, contacting him in the chest and sending him flying. His teammate was defended but unfortunately it did cost Roberts a one match suspension.
A wonderful tribute was paid to Merv Roberts by one of the icons of SA Football; Wally May (Former VFL, Sturt and State Ruckman). In the Advertiser on September 13th, 1954, he wrote: “What a tremendous player Merv Roberts is. He is the best back pocket I’ve seen in this State and as good as they come in Victoria.”
Merv Roberts retired at the end of the 1956 season leaving behind an outstanding record: 162 games, 3 Premierships and Club Life Membership.
In 2022 Merv Roberts became Norwood's 65th Hall of Fame inductee